Predators
Beatriz Moisset -- Sundew -- PA Beatriz Moisset -- Sundew -- PA Ron Hemberger -- CA
 

Photos showing moths in the clutches of predatory plants are probably rare. But they deserve being listed as predators since they kill their prey and consume their nutrients. Ron Hemberger's photo of the Achemon Sphinx Moth is not truly a case of predation. At first it was thought that a spider might have been lurking inside the flower, but a revisit to the flower showed that the "tongue" was simply stuck there by unknown cause.
 

Nolie Schneider -- ON Nolie Schneider -- ON Nolie Schneider -- ON


Nolie Schneider, who lives near Ottawa, Ontario, has photographed a number of predators of moths. Here she shows a jumping spider that managed to take down a Petrophila canadensis moth. Just after she photographed the Agrotis moth (center) a tree frog approached and gulped it down. The last part of the moth's wing can be seen jutting out of the frog's mouth. When I was in Florida last November I stood at a light at the rear entrance to Jack's Bait and Tackle in Florida City pointing out to Jack's son-in-law a small moth resting on the wall just below the light fixture. As we peered at it from about two feet away, a lizard came out of the shadows above the lamp, flicked out its tongue, and the moth disappeared. Blink!....that moth was down the gullet. I see lots of lizards, Cuban toads and native frogs on walls near light fixtures in Florida.
 

Nolie Schneider -- ON Nolie Schneider -- ON Nolie Schneider -- ON


Nolie saw this Clearwing Moth on a flower one day and wondered if it was "playing possum." She didn't see the spider until she flipped the moth over to take a second photo. That's when it showed itself to reclaim possession of its dinner. Spiders, like reptiles and amphibians, probably take a significant toll in moths. The Song Sparrow was helping Nolie examine the overnight catch in her live trap.
 

Nolie Schneider -- ON Giff Beaton -- GA Robert Patterson -- MD David Reed -- MN


Nolie Schneider has another nice photo where Eris militaris is the spider-predator. The moth is too far gone to be identified. Giff Beaton captured a Pentanomid bug that captured an inchworm caterpillar. The inchworm struggled mightily to dislodge the bug, but it soon tired and the bug won. David Reed found a Yellow Warbler shaking the daylights out of a Lochmaeus manteo larva. Birds no doubt consume many more caterpillars than they do of adult moths. I don't know why I happened to have my camera in hand while I sat in the driveway one night watching the moths (it must have been before I adopted indoor studio photography). I saw this Orange Wing Moth in spiral flight approaching me across the driveway. But before it reached me its flight path intersected with that of an ant walking across the driveway. A quick bite by the ant killed the moth who was then examined closely by the ant before it walked off into the darkness. It's difficult to call this predation. Every morning at first light the ant patrols arrive to clean up any moths that have expired on the driveway during the night. They are very efficient scavengers.
 







MothTalk/MothTalk014.htm -- 01/15/2007